jewish in pits -- in pittsburgh, pennsylvania. and my maiden james was kaufmann. the biggest department store was kaufmann's. the jcc is called the kaufmann center. i had no knowledge of jewish life. i never had even eaten a bagel. as i got older and started to understand what -- i was confused t made no sense to me. there was this disconnect between how i was raised and yet i had this family. and everyone knew i was jewish but i didn't know i was jewish. that began my journey to explore what happened, why that happened and so in some ways, my whole life about is a mission to understand what that meant. when my first child was born in 1976, i joined the san
francisco jcc. she went to preschool there and i joined the board. i converted when i was eight months pregnant with my third child in 1982 and i was president of the jcc from '86 to a '89. during that time, i was fully in touch with the jewish life. it was amazing. at a conference, i met gary tobin who was then the director of the center for modern jewish studies at brandeis. with the emfa. word modern there. he was very interested in how jewish life was moving forward and he was very -- we had a lot of synergy and our interests in life. he moved the center for modern jewish studies out to san francisco and we became independent. >> along the way, you got
married? >> yes, i did. we got married. exactly. >> and what does the institute actually do? >> we are focused on identifying the most difficult questions facing the jewish community, the most pertinent questions and primarily those that don't essentially have the data available to answer these questions and we focus on identifying the right question and then working to provide the data to begin to understand how to unravel some of the complex issues in the jewish community, whether we are talking about defense of the jewish community in terms of addressing antisemitism, anti-jewish animus, whether we are talking about strengthening the jewish community with philanthropy and talking about the most important questions facing young jews and jews on a journey, the periphery of the jewish community, how to bring
people to a more common sense of jewishness and what we do is we conduct that research and then we attempt, as best we can, to present it in a way that is not only valuable to professionals in the jewish community but also to the layman so that everyone can whandz these issues are and everyone can understand the data and the information that we are generating. primarily, we attempt to kind of full-length volumes and also smaller reports that effectively present the data in a way that can be implemented by the jewish communal structure and also in a way that can help push forward the communication in the community. this is gary tobin's first book, opening the gates. this is our first book on diversity which really began in conversation in the jewish
before we took our break and una wondering if you it give us some specific examples of a question that the institute has looked into and done some research on. >> i brought up this book which deals the intolerance and anti- semitism on college campuss. many people may be aware of a kind of burning question in the jewish community is what is going on with anti-semitism on campuses and further what is going on with anti-semitism in the modern era and is it beginning to exhibit itself in forms that we might not have expected in the past. specific to san francisco, it is important because san francisco is known as a tolerant place but the synergy of political discourse is seeing whether we are seeing
rising anti-semitism in the way area. and specifically where it is being exhibited. we are involved in a group to address this issue, to engage in focus groups with all segments of the jewish community in san francisco and the non-jewish community. also engage in survey research that essentially asks people, testss people on existing measures of anti-semitism that we have trusted for over 50 years now. and whether those are accurate measures, things like do jews try to control everything and then beginning to ask more questions that begin to get at what might be going on in the jewish -- what might be going in places like san francisco where the synergy of political dissent begins to introduce other aspects of anticipate- semitism in ways that we haven't been familiar with. >> are your focus groups comprised of people who are both jewish and not jewish in
the community? >> yes, absolutely. >> are they mixed focus groups? >> no, they are not mixed. we would like to get a perspective of how the jews see the anti-semitism. not all jews see it the same way. in fran, because we have traditionally assumed there is not a high level anti-semitism, not chore where jews stand on this. they haven't experienced it or faced it. while, for some people, there is an assumption that it is rising and it is a problem for the jewish community, the first thing you have to do is go to the community and assess whether jews in san francisco or the greater bay area actually experience anti- semitism, what they believe to be antihad been semitism and whether they prioritize it as a real threat in their lives. we take that kind of internal jewish communication and begin to look at the general population and see to what
degree are these emotions towards jews that jews take offense to, to what degree are they held by the general population in san francisco. >> you are in the midst of this research. there has been a lot of conversation over the years about how the san francisco bay area in particular was a welcoming place for all kinds of people so colonel the jewish community in and of itself and that issues around integration and assimilation and niche identity were relatively easy here in the bay area and that in part, that is what brought so much of the jewish community into the political left, for example, or political activity. as of late, many people are talking about is there anti- semitism on the left and how do we talk about that arab and to what degree are jews themselves
aware or unaware of that and how does that affect them. and it comes out of a jewish value base. but on the other hand, just kind of being reductionist about it, on the other hand feel that the way they're perceived, regardless of what they're seeing in their political arena is prejudicial toward them only because they are jewish. is that the kind -- is that the kind of -- >> those are the concerns that people have, absolutely. and i have to say, unfortunately, in many situations, some of those have at least been hinted to be correct. of a been hearing a lot about jews who have felt at home on the left, very close at home on the left. much of their social activities are involved in political protests, political dissent and political activism.
i am hearing from a number of them that they have to self- center in certain ways and their perspective as a minority, as a jew is no longer as valid. essentially, their identity as a jew being involved in activities that are traditionally on the left, it must be left to the side. in order to engage in protest that is typically on the left, you have to make sure that the aspects of the protest movement that are very involved in protest against israel don't come in to clash with that jewish identity. now, this has reverberating effects throughout the entire experience of jews in san francisco, whether we are talking about their involvement in social activities, talking about their experiences with anti-semitism or really and what i'm really interested in and it segues to a lot of the other work we do in the institute is how it impacts
jewish identity. how on some level, what is going on is that there is some lack of clarity of what jew under identity really means and who we really are and the void is being filled in many cases by assumptions about jews. so, for example, a jew who is raised as -- in a family that is very much into social justice, that you are parents encourage them to engage in protests, they find all of a sudden that that identity that they believed they had is not accepted by everybody else and they are essentially told, well, no, that part of your jewish identity is not valid here. i personally think it has a lot to do with a lack of forward kind of thinking in the jewish community and aggressive kind of identification of what we say jewishness is. >> fascinating. we have to take a quick break.
we are actually going to say good-bye to r. a. and diane will stay with us. meese join us in just a moment back here on mosaic. are you getting this, honey? man: oh, prime time! we are rolling. all right, mama's gonna bring it home, mama's gonna bring it home. ok, ok! ooh, backwards! man: oh, don't... it went into bob and carol's yard. oh no! ok, here it goes!
welcome back to mosaic. i'm rabbi eric weiss and honored to be your host this morning. we are in the mid all of a wonderful conversation about jewish life into the next century. we are joined did i bidiane tobin who is the president of the institute for jewish and community research. we are joined by her son jonah tobin, the inspiration for a wonderful program that comes out of the institute called be'chol lashon, in every tongue. diane, why don't you talk about
your inspiration. >> i mentioned previously that gary and i met in 1988 and we started working together at the institute doing research that we just discussed a bit. gary and i got married in 1991 and he came with two biological children and i came with three biological children and we decided we wanted to raise a child together. we went to jewish family and children's services and decided to adopt, adoption connection. and the way adoption works these days is that in response to the closed adoptions from the past, we have open adoption where, if you want to adopt, you put out a brochure about your family and the birth mother, typically, the birth parents choose you. in that process, we -- you have to fill out forms and decide who you want but i already had biological children so i really
felt that whoever was going to come to us was meant to be. they told me, one of the thins that is in the adoption world, is if you are not choosing, very often, there are children of color who are the least wanted so to speak and we were likely to get a child of color and at that point, i was still -- it was -- there was no -- i had no predetermined negotiations about who we would adopt. so we in fact were chosen by jonah's birth parents and they wanted the child to have a better education ark good education and so we adopted jonah. i was actually at his birth in 1997. and in 1997, didn't know any black jews. gary was concerned because he had been associated with city
planning and part of the naacp expert witness in housing discrimination, he was concerned he had lost a lot of friends in the '60s as black power came to the rise. so again, since we are a research institute, we asked a lot of people a lot of questions and we -- in 1999, the study of ethnic and racial diversity in the jewish community and as part of that process, we did focus groups in the bay area and we did focus groups with black converts, with some of that large cohort of children who were the product of sexual politics of the '60s with one jewish parent, black parent. >> we have just a little bit of a time with the two of you together. so i wanted to also just ask jonah just, if you can give us a sense about your experience of growing up here in san francisco, what that was and
continues to be for you? >> let me just continue one second to say out of this focus group, those people wanted to get together again and the primary finding was a sense of isolation so we founded be'chol lashon. that was the founding moment. so that is what john paul a's life has been growing up with be'chol lashon. go ahead. >> so i went to a jewish day school and being the only -- one of the only african- american jewish kids in the day school was pretty interesting just because people kind of looked at you different and thought but differently. but be'chol lashon definitely made me feel more accepted and basically everything about my life because be'chol lashon kind of worked with my school
also and that definitely made all the, like, did i have report races of people in my school definitely feel more accepted in general. >> and you know, i think you certainly know, we all know that we live in a world where sometimes people want to put labels on people and sometimes those labels are convenient and sometimes those labels really don't even reflex the depth of who any individual person is and i'm just wondering university in your 15 years here in san francisco, sort of a little bit of how that works personally for yourself. >> at brandeis, because i went to that school, everyone assumed that i was jewish and i was. but now that i'm in high school, people put did i have lent labels on me that i wouldn't have expected at brandeis, based on religion or where i live or like rituals
that i do. and i like to identify myself as just an african-american jew. and people that don't know me usually think i am either christian or, say, muslim just because of my skin tone. it is definitely interesting to see the difference of what i'm in my jew, community, be'chol lashon community, and outside of that community. >> jonah, diane, thank you so much. we'll take another quick break. diane will stay with us and we'll be joined by yet another guest and so we'll say good-bye to jonah for now. thank you so much. please join us in just a moment here on mosaic.
morning. we are joined by diane tobin who is the president of the institute no jewish and community research and also director of be'chol lashon, an organization that means in every tongue. and we are joined by kenny conn who is the camp director of camp be'chol lashon. tell us what that is. >> it came from the annual weekend that we have for our families and members of the o. it was pretty clear that there were a number of people would were stuck on being together. they wanted to build a community, a culture, not just through our organization, but that we needed more. organically we created camp be'chol lashon. diane's daughter, sarah spencer, and i are co-camp directors and we work with kids between the ages of eight to 18. and initially started at one week, moved to two weeks, now is a three-week camp session
over in beautiful marshall in northern california. it's great opportunity and we really enjoy programming that helps to educate kids on global judaism and judaism for them right here, right now, right in front of them as well as answering the questions that even we as adults had when we were children. growing up into the east bay area, it was a different experience for me. i had a traditional jewish upbringing. when i went to high school, i went to berkeley where i met sarah spencer who was my counselor at the time. she told me her family recently adopted jonah and they wanted to see if i was interested in being part after study and before we knew it, here we go. when you get to college, you ciewpped of move on to this place where you don't know how -- you kind of move on to this place where you don't know how your relimbous identity is going to fit in. be'chol lashon was kind of the
filter for me. -- how your religious identity is going to fit in. the camp gave me a canvas to be in my jewish community. >> who comes to the cam ?p. >> mainly families, interracial marriages, adopted families. we go the range. we have our lgbt folks of the jewish community who have children who are adopted and oftentimes, kids who maybe their parents were members of our original think tanks or participants at local events for israel and the gardens. we find more and more people and we have avenue grope from just a bay area-based program to really i worldwide program. we've had campers now from all over the world. >> how many years has the cam. been in existence? >> it is just our fourth year. it is experimental in the sense that it is black, asian, latino
and mixed race children who as kenny mentioned, internationals. we had a little girl from london, one from cambodia. and also for all children, all young people growing up these days, they are growing up in the era of facebook and twitter and their view of the jewish community is much more global and they want to see diversity as part of jewish life. i think there is a miscon seemings that jews are white because of the immigration -- a misconception that jews are white because of the immigration from eastern europe but in fact, we live all over the world. >> believe it or. no, we have come to the end of our time together. i want to thank you for being here. >> thank you. a wonderful opportunity. >> we want to thank you for taking the time to engage in this robust conversation will be like into the next century. thank you so much for being here with us on mosaic. have a wonderful day.
elinson. welcome to bay sunday. we have a great show for you. it's about products. first if you would like to connect to us, we would like to connect to you. we kick it off with the art of living black. it's the black artist expedition and held at the art center. over 50 artists will show off their work. we're proud to have two of the artists here today. welcome. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> let's talk about the art of living black. this is such a big thing. 50 artists. it's nice to be there and share your art at once,